Lisa Fargazer was worried. The cats had told her that Beryl had not been seen for several days, and the last time she had, she had not seemed… entirely well. No one who knew her could get in to see her, and there was no way to sneak into Mr. Harding’s establishment.
Well, not physically. Lisa had the advantage of being able to contact cats, and some other non-human folk, through dreams. Though she’d found it difficult to get to Beryl in the Dreamfields, she decided now was the time to try and replicate her one success. If she could, maybe she could reassure everyone… or warn everyone.
So that evening, after she was finished with work at the Asylum, she trotted north and slipped into the urchin’s hideout above the theater. It was nearly empty, most urchins electing to stay out late in the long summer nights, so she was able to easily find an empty bunk to settle down in. She closed her eyes, and dropped immediately into slumber.
In her Feline form, Felisa leaped onto the path between the Dreamfields. She took a moment to settle her fur, then trotted down it, hunting for the area where she’d found the path to Beryl’s Dreamfield. She reached that area after a while, but felt no indications that the path, which changed locations often, had been there recently. So she slowly went on, letting her unique senses in the Dreamfields guide her on.
Finally, her instinct prodded her to stop. The path wasn’t there now, but she had the feeling it would eventually appear. So she settled down to wait, patient as only a cat can be. At one point during that timeless time, she heard a cawing overhead, and looked up to see a raven fly by. She shivered a little, wondering…
But then, a side path shimmered into existence. A nudge of familiarity made her leap onto the path before it could disappear. She slowly crept forward, wondering what sort of obstacles would block her path to Beryl this time.
It wasn’t long before Felisa found out. A wall of fur blocked her way, fur that contained faces, hissing teeth and numberless claws. She looked up at the nightmarish construct, wondering if it had any intelligence. “Let me pass,” she yowled in Feline. “I must get to Strifeclaw.”
Some of the mouths mrowled back at her, “Must shut out. Nothing can come in.”
She sat back, craning her neck up. Not all the mouths had spoken – did that indicate some sort of internal conflict, one that she could use? “She needs my help,” she replied. “Please, I beg your aid.”
Sure enough, some of the mouths that had not spoken the first time now cried out, “She needs your aid.”
“Then let me speak to her!”
“Climb us,” cried another set of mouths.
Felisa looked warily at the wall, but she knew there was no other choice. She tensely set her claws into the wall of fur and began to climb, trying to avoid the claws and faces.
It was a long, torturous way up. Some faces hissed and yowled at her, some urged her on. Some claws scratched at her, others tried to help her up. She took the blows and scratches without retaliation, not wanting to provoke them all into attacking her. As a consequence, she was rather bloodied by the time she reached the top of the wall, where she stopped to lick her wounds, and then to test the air with eyes, ears, and nose.
She saw that the top, and the other side, of the wall looked rather like the city walls of New Babbage. Below, the city stretched out before her – looking like, but grotesquely unlike, the city she knew in the waking world. Wires grew out of the cobblestones, and iron beams stuck up on the air like metal trees. The Power station appeared to be in the middle of major reconstruction, though she couldn’t tell what the final form would be. There was a staircase leading down the wall, and Felisa descended it, ready to make her way toward the heart of the city.
The whole feel of the place was tense. Groups of men and Moreau stared and growled at each other. Thankfully, they paid her no mind. It wasn’t long before she spotted a strange, glowing leash leading in the direction she was going. A while later, it was joined by another, and then, at the door of a building, a third. All three leashes led inside. Felisa bet that this was where Beryl was, and bared her teeth in distaste at the leashes.
Unfortunately, the door to the building was as solid to her as one such would be in the waking world. She sat in the shadows at one side of the door, waiting for it to open. Finally, a man approached and opened it. She quickly dashed ahead of him, and felt the wind of a kick from his heavy boot. “Damnable cats! Get out of here!”
She scurried away, getting to the wall and crawling under one of the sofas that lined the room. She carefully peeked out, but it appeared the man wasn’t in the mood to try to fish her out. He took out his gun for a moment, but then shrugged, holstered it, and headed into the back of the building.
The leashes, Felisa saw, were leading up a staircase. She dashed to it while the coast was clear, and ascended, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. The leashes led to a room that was a strange amalgamation of palace and prison – prettily furnished, but looking, despite the open door, terribly enclosed.
Inside, she saw Beryl sitting at a mirror, applying makeup. Four leashes were attached to her neck – the three that went outside, and one more that was attached to the bed. She opened her mouth in a silent hiss, then suddenly dashed inside the room, diving under the bed, uncaring of the dust bunnies that immediately attached themselves to her fur.
((To be continued…))
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